Easy Innovation: the Chilean Experiment

I stumbled upon this article and found it interesting, especially in the context of a country like Morocco. It describes an innovative experiment launched in Chile that basically short-circuits the traditional process of trying to boost innovation by building replicas of the Silicon Valley. In addition to being very expensive the author, Vivek Wadhwa, says this conventional way of doing things is a recipe for failure. What Chileans came up with instead is a radical approach whereby entrepreneurs are imported and subsidized to work and innovate. Simple.

Chile is trying a radical new experiment that I helped conceive, to short-circuit this process. It is importing entrepreneurs from all over the world, by offering them $40,000 to bootstrap in Chile. They get a visa; free office space; assistance with networking, mentoring, fundraising, and connecting to potential customers and partners. All the entrepreneurs have to do, in return, is commit to working hard and live in one of the most beautiful places on this planet.

The program, called Start-Up Chile, is still in the pilot stage. Chile has selected 25 teams to receive grants. Seventeen of these teams have already moved to Chile’s capital city, Santiago. The program will be officially launched on January 13, 2011. It will then be opened to the next batch of 100 startups. Chile expects to “import” around 1000 startup teams over the next three years.

Contrary to what the video in the article claims, however, Chile is not the only country in the world where you can snowboard and surf in the same day. You can do that (and more) in Morocco…. Oh, and women are as beautiful as in Chile. So if young and passionate entrepreneurs are willing to go to far away Chile to work and innovate, wouldn’t they fight to do the same in Morocco?

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14 thoughts on “Easy Innovation: the Chilean Experiment

  1. In case you are completely clueless(1), let me point out that:

    * Chile ranks number 32 in the Democracy Index (between France and Taiwan) as a flawed democracy. Morocco…well, it’s an authoritarian state.

    * Chile has 96% literacy rate. Morocco barely pushes over the 50% bar.

    * Chile is a republic and the head of state’s entourage will not screw over your business without serious consequences.

    * The Judicial is independent in Chile. In Morocco, it is subservient to the monarchy (both in theory and in practice!).

    * Chile has no state religion. Blasphemy is not in effect. Homosexuals can do as they please. A woman isn’t treated like “half” a man. And…perhaps most importantly, the civil code doesn’t make distinctions between a member of religion X and a member of religion Y. Nor does it prohibit conversions from or to anything.

    * Coca leaves are legally cultivated and sold on the open market.

    * You can marry whomever you want regardless of your respective religions.

    Now…look again into this fabled “context” of yours, and maybe come back to sell us this idea when Moroccans (or, to be fair, the one Morocco upon which such decisions rest) suddenly decide to step out of the dark ages.

    (1) No offense meant. But the comparison is so ludicrous that it had to be said.

  2. Well you made a very strong case there Fawzi. Point taken. Although I don’t see what legalized cultivation and commerce of coca leaves has to do with anything.

    Anyway, as a matter of fact, I had a discussion on Twitter following the publication of the post the other day and the questions raised matched much of the legitimate points you raised. I do sound upbeat but part of me is as skeptic as common sense may suggest. And corruption is at the core of it. Corruption however as you might well say is itself nothing more than the epiphenomenon of a wider, multifaceted and institutional problem, that is the authoritarian nature of the Moroccan regime. You see, I’m an atheist myself but I don’t necessarily fixate on religion and wouldn’t blame Islam per se on everything that doesn’t work in Morocco. But that’s another matter.

  3. @Hisham

    People tend to move to freer societies. Investors are people. Given the choice, a rational actor will always move to a freer country. That’s where the coca leaves come into play. Prohibition on a grand scale, of an endemic plant that’s part and parcel of the Moroccan culture versus the legal status of coca shows the difference of authoritarianism between both states.

    I would appreciate it if you stayed away from strawman arguments. It’s a nice rhetoric construct to say that I “blame Islam per se on[sic] everything that doesn’t work in Morocco”, but it’s doesn’t pass muster. I blame religion* for the pitiful status of women, homosexuals, non-religious communities, and the state of freedom of expression in general. You may not consider those issues priorities in the current context. You may not care that male get twice the inheritance of a female sibling. You may not care that homosexual public display of affection is ground for legal action. You may not care that Islam is shoved down little children’s throats, and that every new Moroccan (save for a tiny dwindling Jewish community) is automatically labeled a Muslim in the eyes of the law with no recourse. But please don’t misrepresent my comment with silly fallacies. I am a grown up person who can distinguish between issues. Yes, corruption is an issue. And I agree that it’s probably an epiphenomenon of the feudal relents of the society at large. But civil rights that are directly derived from booting out state religion stand on their own merit, and need not be derided just because they don’t fit your personal world-model.

    * I haven’t even uttered the word Islam. It could be Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism or Scientology for all I care. Hell…if secular humanism would declared state religion and its critics are violently silenced or repressed, I would be among the first ones to denounce it. Snap out of this silly paranoia that I am somehow singling out Islam!

  4. @Fawzi

    I do believe free societies, fostering free markets are the ones that better achieve happiness and human betterment.

    Politics aside, I do support legalizing drugs but on a more utilitarian ground than you do. Although I’ve grown more and more convinced that the lesser the government (any government) meddles into people’s lives the better, the question of drugs has remained an excruciating one for me. As a doctor I have witnessed the terrible havoc so-called “soft drugs” inflict on young people. Incidence of cannabis-related psychosis in Morocco is one of the highest in the world. It is also one that affects people at a very young age. It’s a tragedy of monumental proportions and a subject little talked about. Men of goodwill would argue that in the name of public good, governments should authoritatively and violently control and prohibit the use of these drugs, but, all other things being equal, the more government intervened, the worst the situation appeared to be: more corruption, more addiction and more violence.

    Eventually, I ended up embracing the Friedmanian approach on this one. I do see more ethical ground and indeed expediency in legalizing Hashish in a country like Morocco. The lesser a government dictates to people what they should eat, wear, think, smoke, say or believe the better and more clever and innovative are the solutions people come up with.

    You questioned my rhetorical ways and, yes, I might have misinterpreted your reference to religion specifically. I stand corrected. I just hope you’re not trying to dictate what I should say and how I should say it. I do care for human rights in my country and I feel equally concerned by the fate of women, homosexuals in an overly conservative, ideologically dominated society. That ideology can indeed be Islam as it can well be a secular authoritarian dogma in disguise. Our difference isn’t much in terms of priorities as it is in terms of perspective: my problem isn’t much Islam as it is the feudal system called the Makhzen. What I’m saying is: from a consequential perspective, putting the blame squarely on religion is a misdiagnosis and an oversimplification that leads to false assumptions and inadequate solutions. In other words, I don’t think prosperity is exclusive to religion-free or secular societies. That’s why I referred to religion whilst taking your perfectly valid points on board.

  5. Incidence of cannabis-related psychosis in Morocco is one of the highest in the world.

    What sort of doctor are you? Do you have any psychiatric training to diagnose “psychosis” in subjects? And if so, did you conduct a double-blind studies to attribute it to hashish usage? I think not! Correlation is not causation. Being from a region that heavily consumes hashish, I would guess that the very real societal schizophrenia contributes to a great extent to psychosis among young people in Morocco.

    I was diagnosed with psychosis and interned in horrid conditions for close to a year. My doctor blamed my state on cannabis use. I escaped and self-medicated with…more cannabis. I finally realized that my condition was the result of a most severe case of cognitive dissonance between my free-thinking nature and the religion imposed on me. Immediately after I decided to go apostate, all the pieces came together and I am now a functioning member of society. I need to hide my beliefs and play hypocrite on a daily basis though, for fear of prosecution and persecution.

    I agree with you conclusion. Prohibition only makes things worse.

    Our difference isn’t much in terms of priorities as it is in terms of perspective: my problem isn’t much Islam as it is the feudal system called the Makhzen.

    Nice! You managed to crystallize the disagreement.

    For the sake of a scholarly discussion, let’s not refer to the Makhzen as a “feudal system”. It borrows many a page from feudal societies, but it is not a feudal system per se. We both know what you meant though. The Makhzen is a complex structure that fits perfectly in the “Ancien Régime” notion of Montesquieu (in De L’Esprit des Lois – 1748).

    I submit to you that religion is central to this regime (and as the Makhzen itself likes to boast, the key to its stability). It is precisely because of religion (state-religion to be exact) that proper reform of the Makhzen is but a fleeting illusion in Morocco.

    Religious fatalism hinders the emergence of a culture of political accountability. Religious education discourages rational thinking. Religiously-inspired laws stands in the way of civil liberties.

    I apologize if I don’t have any references to provide in support of this position at the moment, but will try to dig through my library and recommend a few illuminating works.

    Meanwhile, I ask you to present the factors that you think are more central than religion.

    In other words, I don’t think prosperity is exclusive to religion-free or secular societies

    So…you’re after prosperity, huh? I am not! I am after a liberal democratic society where the individual is free and empowered. And that, my dear Hisham, is exclusive to secular societies.

    Of course, secularism is not a sufficient condition to achieving that. It is a *necessary* but not sufficient condition.

    And once again, I invite you to try to come up with a more necessary condition to a liberal democracy and a free society. I personally see none. Neither money nor access to technology help as evidenced by the state of many a Middle-Eastern country.

    Let me add that I am not trying to dictate what you should say. I would be happy (and even grateful) if you could convince me that religion is neither the most important nor the most pressing issue.

  6. Kitty got your tongue Hisham?

    What part of $STATE_RELIGION < $SECULARISM is an "oversimplification that leads to false assumptions and inadequate solutions"? What is oversimplistic? What false assumptions are presupposed? Why is kicking out religion from public matters an inadequate solution?

  7. Not at all Fawzi. You raised questions I am much willing to discuss. I’ve been terribly busy these last hours. Will get back here soon. Probably no later that this evening (Moroccan time). Stay tuned.

  8. On the issue of cannabis-related psychosis:

    The “kind of doctor” I am is not relevant to this debate nor is the question of whether Cannabis can harm people’s health any central to this discussion, which, as far as I know, started as a reflection on the role of governments in controlling people’s lives. But regardless, I’d love to address the questions you raised.

    One needs not be a psychiatrist to diagnose a psychosis, and, as a clinician, I do not conduct “double-blind” studies myself. I let others (mostly Americans) with the means, knowledge and logistical support do it for the benefit of the whole medical community. I do acknowledge however that the question of causality is central in this regard –one that has been a matter for controversy within the medical community for years. Thank goodness these questions have been addressed and clinical observation supported by a sophisticated field of biology now provides conclusive answers. The question has been addressed in two different levels: 1) can Cannabinoids produce psychotic conditions conducive to schizophrenia? And 2), can Cannabinoids precipitate symptoms in patients predisposed or with a known record of psychotic disorder? The findings provided by clinical observation and biological studies are quite convergent: Yes, Cannabinoids can produce psychotic symptoms and yes, they do precipitate the course of the illness. That does not mean that any hashish consumer will necessarily end up schizophrenic (indeed most of hashish users will not) nor does this mean that all psychotic patients have a known history of hashish intoxication.

    I’m not in denial. Each time we (humans, doctors included) think about cause and effect we tend to do it in a black-and-white fashion. Unfortunately for us, nature is much more tricky than that. The same goes with hashish use and schizophrenia: whilst hashish definitely increases vulnerability to psychosis, alternatively as a precipitative or (at times) a direct causal effect (some studies have shown significant risk increase to up to 40% of psychotic outcome with cannabis use and others a dose-dependent risk increase), it is not sufficient nor necessary to trigger the disease. I’m not familiar with the particulars of your case Fawzi, but I must concur, hashish is all but one component, not independent from other “confounding factors” including what we nebulously call “environment”. There comes your good mention of “societal schizophrenia.” Increasing evidence now suggests that environment, by which psychological stress is often referred to, may significantly impact on the interplay between cannabis exposure (including age, amount and duration of consumption) and psychosis. “Hypocrisy” as such, insofar as we agree on a cognitive and behavioral definition of the term, hasn’t, as far as I know, been considered for study. But as a way of social interaction, you must agree, it isn’t exclusive to Morocco, or indeed to any Muslim majority country for that matter. Societal hypocrisy is a generic term that must be dissected and that certainly conveys stress factors at play in many a psychological illness. Maybe religion has played a central role in your specific case. Conversely, from my experience, I know religion has played a psychotherapeutic role in certain patients. My opinion is that religion as such isn’t to blame but rather the surrounding factors that produced the psychological burden that, I imagine, you were under. Which brings us (happily) back to the question of freedom. Freedom as opposed to authoritarianism. It is key to our debate. Mother nature, one must believe, does things orderly and it loves freedom. Freedom as a way to “cure” individuals and whole societies.

    ***

    On the Makhzen: How to define it and whether Religion plays a critical role in it

    Feudalism is a term that is used often for different (sometimes contradictory) types of regime I have to admit. But I still prefer to use it rather than the quite French-centered Ancien Regime because, unlike the latter, it conveys this architectural notion of a sophisticated, hierarchical network of clients that together control the whole country by monopolizing big chunks of the economy. What was once fiefdoms are now sensitive economic sectors where vassals and lords siphon off profits to the detriment of much of the rest of the population.

    As for religion, it does play a central role indeed. But again, from a utilitarian point of view, you may not bring the change you wish for by attacking that fundamental compound of the Moroccan monarchy. I try to judge actions by their final outcome. What we have here is a conservative society that sincerely puts religion at the center of its preoccupations. And the king plays a central, undeniable role in that equation. Remove that and you will end up with a free playground for much worse fundamentalist wahabists and a country in tatters. In an ideal world we would have separated state and religion and people would have appreciated the wisdom of that fundamental distinction. But that is not happening and won’t be happening in the foreseeable future if you keep somnolently calling for the reproduction of models that may have worked elsewhere but that wouldn’t stand the test in a country like Morocco. Should we then surrender to the theory that our people are irremediably averse to the fundamentals of liberal democracies? Hell, no! Secularism is indeed necessary but I do believe a middle ground is possible in which the monarchy would be given a way out: it would retain its spiritual prestige and function while being constitutionally kicked out of earthly polity. From that perspective I do think that religion, contrary to your claim, does not stand in the way of reforming the Makhzen. Central to me is not religion but the civil society. A civil society that considers human rights and democracy as paramount will choose the way it wants to see them implemented and will adapt its values and traditions accordingly.

  9. The research that links cannabis to higher incidences of psychosis is not scientific. It is politically motivated. My purpose is not to demonstrate that cannabis is not associated with mental issues. I just wanted to point out that the claim attributing psychosis among young Moroccans to cannabis is dubious.

    We can agree that prohibition is an unwise political decision. So…let’s leave it at that.

    Societal schizophrenia (or hypocrisy) is, of course, not exclusive to Morocco nor to Muslim-majority countries. However, you must understand that it is a sliding scale and not a binary property. And you must agree that the societal schizophrenia is more pronounced in Muslim societies than it is other places. The more religious a group of people is, the more symptoms of schizophrenia it will exhibit. This is even more pronounced and palpable in the information age. Thanks to the pervasive dissemination of science and knowledge, entire societies are experiencing cognitive dissonance. And this, more than any other reason, is what drives some to blow themselves up in a crowded market. You know…the people who terrorize you so much that you’re willing to compromise your ideals for them.

    I can appreciate a good utilitarian argument, but yours is – to put it delicately – nonsense! If the country is ever in tatters, you can be sure it’s because of Islam’s monopoly on the political and intellectual landscape. In other terms, the “fundamentalist wahabists” (what other kind of wahabism is there?) stand a fighting chance to recruit people on their side BECAUSE Islam is the state-religion and the Quran is taught as the word of god. Doing that to children is friggin’ abuse!

    You claim to be concerned about the “civil society”. State-religion is standing in the way of achieving civil liberties. It is getting in the way of the emancipation of women. It stifles free thinking and the promotion of science. It imposes Arabization on the Amazigh people in their own homeland. It fosters a culture of fatalism. It oppresses gay people. It forces the growing population of converts to Christianity into hiding.

    It is the anti-thesis of a liberal democracy!

    And because you *believe*, maybe, some time in the future, Morocco could potentially fall in the hands of fundamentalist wahabis…you’re willing to consider state-religion a necessary evil. It’s an evil alright, but it is not any more necessary than slavery.

    The same asinine “utilitarian” argument was made against granting women the right to vote in countries. It was made against civil right in the US. It was made against freedom of worship in Turkey.

    Change is always risky. And you sir, are picking the conservative stance. I will argue that it is immoral in this case, as state-religion is oppressing people on a daily basis. You may not notice it in your comfy little circle, but among social classes below yours, the level of harm directly attributable to the state-religion is horrendous.

    The “middle ground” you are arguing for, is more of the same limbo Morocco has been stuck into for the last century.

    The state-religion even stands in the way of freedom of expression. How can we aspire to a liberal democracy if the most fundamental inquiries into our collective identity are censored?

    Your position is full of holes. On the one hand, you say that “secularism is indeed necessary”. And then you say that it’s not. You want to have it both ways…and the only thing you’re doing is making a fool out of yourself.

  10. The research that links cannabis to higher incidences of psychosis is not scientific. It is politically motivated.

    You’re not going to get away with this. You need to support this unintelligible claim by some minimal evidence.

    The more religious a group of people is, the more symptoms of schizophrenia it will exhibit.

    Equally dubious. Where did you get that?

    I can appreciate a good utilitarian argument, but yours is – to put it delicately – nonsense! If the country is ever in tatters, you can be sure it’s because of Islam’s monopoly on the political and intellectual landscape.

    Again, you’re misdiagnosing. But regardless, I am more than willing to learn. Would you be kind enough to share your wisdom and break it down to me?

    Read my word carefully. I’m not defending State-religion, but rather advocating for a parliamentary monarchy where the king is out of the earthly political business, while a democratically elected civilian government abides by the secular constitution that the civil society would have concocted in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guaranties the rights of women, minorities, gays and indeed the right for children not to be religiously or ideologically indoctrinated at an age when they can not choose for themselves.

    My issue is the modus operandi. How do you go about doing all that? How do you “neutralize” Islam, as it were? And please avoid equivocating in this specific matter and tell me what kind of regime are you thinking about? What role, if any, would you reserve for the monarch?

    And because you *believe*, maybe, some time in the future, Morocco could potentially fall in the hands of fundamentalist wahabis…you’re willing to consider state-religion a necessary evil. It’s an evil alright, but it is not any more necessary than slavery.

    Hold your horses there! I talked about the monarchy as a spiritual (de facto, private) institution within a secular state that doesn’t recognize any official religion. But that can only come in stages. Sweden has kept an official religion until 2000 when the church was officially separated from the state. This didn’t prevent the country from establishing the shining liberal democracy we know today. We each have our own opinions about the monarchy but you must admit, it has a spiritual (call it symbolic, ceremonial) function to play. It is, for the time being, fundamental for the stability and unity of the country as a whole. Those who can’t see that, are self-deluding I’m afraid.

    Change is always risky. And you sir, are picking the conservative stance.

    How is kicking the Moroccan monarchy off the political business a conservative stance? Please tell me.

    Anyway, I would highly encourage you, sir, to stray away from adhominems and keep this, so far, very enriching and candid discussion, on focus.

  11. You’re not going to get away with this. You need to support this unintelligible claim by some minimal evidence.

    I withdraw it. Since we are both opposed to prohibition, there’s no need for me to point out to the lack of residual confounding and reverse causality control in those studies.

    The cannabis studies are as independent politically as the ones on climate change. Not very much that is.

    Equally dubious. Where did you get that?

    It’s trivial. Religion is our first attempt at philosophy and science. All religions make claims about cosmology, biology, geology. Religious societies have access to scientific knowledge that contradicts their beliefs. To reconcile what they know is impossible (flying horses, sticks turning to snakes and what-not) with what they believe is true, they resort to rationalization. Which manages just fine (in their minds!) in a purely intellectual debate. In the real world, however, the schism is palpable. This accumulates gradually and creates schizophrenic societies torn between tradition and modernity.

    Read my word carefully. I’m not defending State-religion, but rather advocating for a parliamentary monarchy where the king is out of the earthly political business

    Well then…if you do agree that secularism is necessary, why do you state that your “problem isn’t much Islam”?

    My issue is the modus operandi. How do you go about doing all that? How do you “neutralize” Islam, as it were? And please avoid equivocating in this specific matter and tell me what kind of regime are you thinking about? What role, if any, would you reserve for the monarch?

    We are not enacting policy here. We are discussing ideologies. In that sense, compromising with evil is being accessory to evil.

    But if must insist, I think freedom of speech is the number one step. Criticism of Islam is risky business in Morocco as there exist laws against “shaking” the faith of a Muslim. As for regimes, I don’t think a divine-rights monarchy is a legitimate form of government. And I don’t need to tell you that criticism of the monarchy is even riskier that criticizing Islam.

    A political project that hides its true intentions as a means to an end is hypocritical. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that is what you seem to be doing here. You’re trying to argue that religion should not be attacked because you think it would be counter-productive, and you suggest deceit to get nearer to your goals.

    Sweden has kept an official religion until 2000 when the church was officially separated from the state.

    Religions are equal in only one way: They are all wrong!

    So…don’t try to claim that the Christianity of the Church of Sweden is anywhere comparable to Malekite Islam. The former has been tamed and subdued through more than two centuries of open debate. For all intents and purposes, Sweden has been a secular country for almost a century. None of the civil laws were liberticidal in the name of god. If was a mere formality. And that is far from the case in Morocco, where religion is not to be criticized and people stuck in a religion by of birth.

    It is, for the time being, fundamental for the stability and unity of the country as a whole. Those who can’t see that, are self-deluding I’m afraid.

    Of course I see it! Monarchies are the most stable form of government. Tyranny, police state and brainwashing with myths and superstition are excellent tools to ensure the stability of a country as a whole.

    Why would anyone think different.

    But if you wrote that to extol the virtues of monarchies, I’m afraid you are making a circular reasoning fallacy. The argument being that the monarchy is good…for the stability of the kingdom. Duh!

    My contention is with the morality of such a system. And to tell you the truth, I have more respect for people who truly believe their king is doing Allah’s work. It’s a more honorable position to hold than this hypocrite stance of yours.

    How is kicking the Moroccan monarchy off the political business a conservative stance?

    Not that! Your position on Islam. Religion has always been the main obstacle to kicking Moroccan monarchy off the political business.

  12. In the real world, however, the schism is palpable. This accumulates gradually and creates schizophrenic societies torn between tradition and modernity.

    That’s maybe true, but I was referring to your statement that the more religious the society is, the more schizophrenia it will produce. It’s one thing to say that societies are torn between contradicting poles, it’s another to claim that somehow they produce more mental illnesses. If you were talking about religious extremists then what you were describing is not schizophrenia but a form of mystical delusion. It is hard to fathom, but those fanatics who blow themselves up are no schizophrenic: their mental processes are not destroyed but rather seriously distorted. They have (or someone has, for them) invented their own morbid reasoning: they may be deluded, they are nevertheless able to think pragmatically and successfully avoid detection. It’s true, their delusion stems from frustration, but their violence and fanaticism are precipitated by a calculated political ideology that, in this case, happens to use Islam. It could as well have used Marxism in Sri Lanka, Maoism in Nepal or Shintoism in pre-democratic Japan. In the case of Muslim-majority societies, fanaticism is sporadic. If the one billion-strong Muslim population was, as you’re suggesting, full of crazies roaming the streets, we would have been in way more trouble, believe me.

    Well then…if you do agree that secularism is necessary, why do you state that your “problem isn’t much Islam”?

    You’re obviously obsessed with religion but I have a good news for you. Morocco is not a theocracy. The Oulemas have no say in the conduct of State affairs and the Makhzen basically uses Islam for political purposes. Maybe if we were talking about the Vatican or Iran I would have considered religion a fundamental problem. I know this is not the case in Morocco. And that’s a fact you will have to live with.

    We are not enacting policy here. We are discussing ideologies. In that sense, compromising with evil is being accessory to evil.

    You must have an idea about how your views might come to life. Otherwise what’s the point of having ideas in the first place? but I agree with you, freedom of speech is paramount.

    A political project that hides its true intentions as a means to an end is hypocritical. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that is what you seem to be doing here… you suggest deceit to get nearer to your goals.

    Please, spare me the shrill rhetoric. I’m not making my “goals” any secret, judging by the fact (in case you haven’t noticed) I‘m prepared to discuss them with you on this very public forum. I’m not suggesting deceit neither. I’m not calling for an invisible government. I’m advocating for a parliamentary monarchy. Why is this so hard for you to understand?

    I have more respect for people who truly believe their king is doing Allah’s work. It’s a more honorable position to hold than this hypocrite stance of yours.

    Right. And just remind me from where exactly you’re writing that… Sweden. How hypocritical is that? Why do you think Swedes preserved the House of Bernadottes? Because somehow they believe their king is doing their God’s work? They stripped their monarch of all executive titles, exactly as I (publicly) wish we could do, but retained the king as head of state and maintained the ceremonial function of the monarchy. There must be a reason for that don’t you think? An institution as old and rooted becomes part of the State precisely because of the role it plays in the stability and unity of the country. These are no trivial matters, sir.

  13. It’s one thing to say that societies are torn between contradicting poles, it’s another to claim that somehow they produce more mental illnesses.

    I never meant to give you that impression. The exact quote is: “The more religious a group of people is, the more symptoms of schizophrenia it will exhibit.” The “It” refers to the group of people as a whole. And I used the mental illness as a metaphor to describe how the society as a whole can exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia.

    If the one billion-strong Muslim population was, as you’re suggesting, full of crazies roaming the streets, we would have been in way more trouble, believe me.

    As Michel Onfray often points out, the world is full of self-described Marxists who don’t believe in the class struggle and of Christians who don’t believe in the virgin birth. You even have plenty of Muslims who don’t believe Mohamed was the last prophet.

    One needs to distinguish between what an ideology preaches, and what people cherry-pick in that ideology. Indeed, the only reason those billion folks call themselves Muslims is by accident of birth. Most of them mindlessly learn the Quran in a language they don’t even understand.

    I think they behave like crazies. But we have a different threshold for crazy. I think discriminating based on gender is crazy. I think incantations are crazy. And…if they are not looking for people to stone or subjugate, it’s not because the Quran has a shortage of justifications to these actions. It’s rather thanks to the innate sense of empathy and the universality of the golden rule in our species.

    So don’t confuse Islam, with what Muslims practice.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/AtheistMediaBlog#p/u/2/hLiku08FlRg

    You’re obviously obsessed with religion but I have a good news for you. Morocco is not a theocracy. The Oulemas have no say in the conduct of State affairs and the Makhzen basically uses Islam for political purposes. Maybe if we were talking about the Vatican or Iran I would have considered religion a fundamental problem. I know this is not the case in Morocco. And that’s a fact you will have to live with.

    I set the bar pretty low when it comes to theocracy.

    Last I checked, Morocco defines itself as a Muslim country, Islam is the state religion, and that status cannot be reformed (article 106 of the constitution). Moreover, the highest institution in the country is the monarchy, and the monarch enjoys an Amir Al-Mouminine status and claims that his power was granted by a divine power, and he claims to be a descendant from a prophet.

    The civil code is Islamic in nature. Conversion away from Islam is illegal. Distribution of any non-Islamic religious literature is illegal. People are oppressed on a daily basis, by the state, in the name of Islam. Whether it be women, gays, non-Muslims or simply Amazighs who don’t want Arabic names for their kids.

    This, I attribute to the definition of Morocco as a Muslim state. You refuse to acknowledge that the state-religion is behind this.

    So again, if secularism is necessary, why do you not condemn state-religion? That’s an incoherent position to hold.

    You must have an idea about how your views might come to life. Otherwise what’s the point of having ideas in the first place?

    You really see no point in thinking and having an idea for its own sake? I’m genuinely shocked!

    Please, spare me the shrill rhetoric. I’m not making my “goals” any secret,

    Shrill? Really? Do you even know what that means?

    Look…there’s clearly a misunderstanding between us. I am arguing that the logical extension of your world-model is to reject state-religions. You repeatedly refused to do that. You obscure the discussion at every step by grasping another straw.

    It is obvious that you are debating openly and in good-faith. But you are compromising in a purely intellectual discussion. More precisely, you refused to condemn state-religion as an evil construct. It may not have been the case in 7th century Arabia or 15th century South America, but today, it is! Anywhere. And I’d like to hear you state that unambiguously. Without ifs, buts and the usual litany of conditions.

    I’m advocating for a parliamentary monarchy. Why is this so hard for you to understand?

    That part is easy to understand. I shall remind you that according to the King and most monarchists, Morocco is a parliamentary monarchy.

    But I know exactly what you mean.

    and just remind me from where exactly you’re writing that… Sweden. How hypocritical is that?

    I see that you’re unfamiliar with the world’s most popular VPN that happens to be hosted in Sweden. By the way, I highly recommend it: ipredator.com — brought to you by TPB crew.

    Anyway, I fail to understand how these TCP/IP packets bouncing off a server in Sweden make my position hypocritical.

    Why do you think Swedes preserved the House of Bernadottes? Because somehow they believe their king is doing their God’s work?

    A minority does. The faction that traditionally votes for the Christian Democrats counts a great deal of people who believe the monarch is doing God’s work. The constitution requires the queen or king to be a Protestant Christian*.

    That said, the political party that shaped modern Sweden and that dominated parliament up until the early 2000 is republican. So, I don’t see what point you’re trying to make.

    There must be a reason for that don’t you think?

    Of course there’s a reason. In fact there are many. I would say that Sweden’s alignment with the West during the cold war was the main reason. Next, is the fact that people are – generally speaking – sheeple who stick to the familiar.

    An institution as old and rooted becomes part of the State precisely because of the role it plays in the stability and unity of the country.

    The monarchy plays an essential role in maintaining the stability of the Kingdom of Sweden. It’s obvious! But it’s ludicrous to claim that it is part of the State by design. It’s still there because people just don’t care. Currently, 44% of Swedes want the head of state to be elected than inheriting the position. The figure has been steadily growing, and support for the abolition of the monarchy is even stronger among young people. No amount of sophistry on your part can change those facts.

    * A case is pending in the supreme court.

  14. @fawzi

    Touché! OK, that wasn’t from Sweden.

    Maybe I didn’t make myself clear but I do unquestionably reject state religion. I said that in an ideal world I would have had religion abolished. But you have to start somewhere don’t you think? People are overwhelmingly conservative in Morocco as you well know, and religion is part of the equation whether we like it or not. Again, this isn’t a sinister scheme I’m suggesting but I want to strike an honest and transparent deal with the monarchy: it can keep its prestige, pomp and religious symbolism but it will have to hand over its executive prerogatives to an elected government; then we would, short of abolishing Islam altogether, find ways to get around those anachronistic references to Islam. Insisting on eliminating religion will be a non starter, as I’m sure you already suspect. It will be counter-productive on a spectacular scale.

    Now, I am genuinely interested in knowing the kind of compromise you would be willing to accept as far as reforming the Moroccan constitution and the monarchy are concerned. I’m sure someone with your erudition must have an idea.

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